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"Too Obsessed"

2:41 PM, Sep 25, 2006 • By DANIEL MCKIVERGAN
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President Clinton also claimed on Fox News yesterday that "all the right-wingers" believed he was "too obsessed" with bin Laden, that he "did too much" in going after the al Qaeda head. The reality is a bit different. Many conservatives applauded Clinton's decision to strike in Sudan and Afghanistan following the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa. In November 1998, for example, Andrew McCarthy wrote a lengthy piece in the Weekly Standard in support of the strikes, but he also explained why the Clinton administration's overall approach to combating the terror threat was woefully inadequate. Similar to what Reuel Marc Gerecht would target=_blank>argue in the wake of the USS Cole bombing, McCarthy pushed the administration to treat international terrorism as "a military problem, not a criminal-justice issue." He wrote:

Does the administration actually grasp the nature of the threat we face? Following the August 20 retaliatory strikes, secretary of state Madeleine Albright and national security adviser Samuel Berger rejected the predictable "wag the dog" accusations with solemn admonitions that, in terrorism, the United States has suddenly been confronted with a "new war" -- one we would now have to be prepared to fight, alone if necessary. This was exceedingly curious. There is nothing at all "new" about radical Islam's terrorist war against the United States. It has been going on since the late 1980s. It has been openly declared since the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center in Manhattan, which killed six, injured over a thousand, and caused nearly $ 1 billion in damage. Its leaders, moreover, have been promising for more than five years that in pursuing this war, they would kill American civilians and bomb American military installations and embassies overseas….

Such an adversary will not be defeated by the techniques the president recommended at the U.N. -- increased international cooperation in the prosecution and extradition of terrorists. These are necessary steps, but breathtakingly inadequate. A military threat calls for a military response….

In the main, international terrorism is a military problem, not a criminal-justice issue. There is a severe limit to the circumstances in which it is either possible or prudent to apprehend terrorists overseas only to swaddle them in the rights of American defendants -- including education them, through the extensive discovery our system mandates, as to what we know about them and the precious and regrettably scarce sources of that information. Terrorists, furthermore, see the world in gimlet-eyed simplicity. They are not swayed by our breathless pursuit of international conventions that are broken with impunity, weapons-inspection regimes that we lack the stomach to police, or "peace processes" that become hideous euphemisms for body counts. These convey weakness. What impresses them is the certainty that force will swiftly and surely be met with exponentially superior force. That alone is a meaningful deterrent.

The Weekly Standard

November 2, 1998
The Missing Link in U.S. Terrorism Policy

BYLINE: By Andrew C. McCarthy;
Andrew C. McCarthy, formerly chief trial counsel at the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan, was the lead prosecutor at the terrorism trial of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and 11 others.

At the very moment last month when Americans watched the videotape of their chief executive weaseling through testimony before a federal grand jury, President Clinton was addressing the General Assembly of the United Nations in New York on international terrorism. To those who watch terrorism closely, the president's remarks and the accompanying atmosphere were profoundly disheartening. It was clear from the timing that the administration sees terrorism as a "winning issue" -- one that both illustrates the president's engagement in a matter of grave importance and reminds the public of the need for an energetic commander in chief. But Clinton's speech was a disaster. It succeeded only in spotlighting the dangerous uncertainty and incompetence of the administration's policy.